This seminar will examine the material text in Europe, from the later Middle Ages through the early modern period (1300–1700). We will consider the production and circulation of manuscripts and early printed books, with a broad focus: we will range across descriptive bibliography (i.e. how to describe the physical features of a book) and various theoretical approaches that fall under the broad umbrella of the “History of the Book.” Students will have the opportunity to work in detail with the primary sources at the Newberry, “adopting” both a manuscript and printed text to research and share with your classmates throughout our four meetings. Both of the instructors firmly believe that to be a good medievalist one should know about print, and to be a good early modernist, one should know about manuscripts. The class is intended to appeal to those working in numerous disciplines, from literary studies, to history, to art history, and beyond.
Class meetings will be tailored to the individual research projects of those enrolled. Our meetings will be divided between three tasks: discussing scholarship on the material text; working with primary materials in the Newberry’s collection that relate to your research; and workshopping drafts of a dissertation chapter related to manuscripts or early print. We aim to help each student have a completed draft of a dissertation chapter by the end of the seminar.
The seminar is limited to 12 participants, but is open to all graduate students in the early stages of their dissertation who have written at least a proposal and/or first chapter. Students need not be ABD.